Since millennials don’t use credit cards, cash, or even beads and shells, the only way to get them to pay for anything is through their smartphone. Add in a text-to-pay service like Rhombus and you’ve got Williamsburg catnip. This new app allows people to pay you via a special contact number. For example, a customer can text you an order – “five large soy chai latte soylents with almond milk” – and you can request cash. The system lets them confirm payment and it’s automatically debited from their account.
Rhombus was created by Edwin Elodimuor and Taiwo Oyeniyi, two fintech gurus who worked at Navigant Consultin and Goldman Sachs respectively. Oyeniyi has a Masters in Computer Science and Elodimuor one in Economics.
The system is live and has seen about $400,000 in transactions. They’ve processed 3,656 charges and there are over a hundred merchants on the platform. Unlike Venmo the system doesn’t require an app. Instead, users simply text a special business number and all of the transactions are performed between the customer and the business.
“We started Rhombus to solve our own problems,” said Oyeniyi. “My co-founder and I really wanted a simple way to send donations to our local church, which typically collected cash or checks in paper envelopes every Sunday. We quickly saw interest from regular businesses that wanted a better way to accept payments. Adding messaging felt like a natural extension of that simplicity we offered our merchants and customers.”
The system works with any phone and requires no hardware. The system can also text you a list of Rhombus-enabled businesses.
“Customers don’t have to signup to chat with businesses, it’s like texting anyone on your contact list. Paying for things within the conversation is as simple as texting the amount you wish to send to the business,” said Oyeniyi. While the service still requires you to interact with a human at least once, primarily when picking up your protein cupcake, reducing the total payment friction sounds like a great thing.